Sunday, May 17, 2009

Chrestomathy, continued...


In his “Notes Towards Beauty”, Reginald Shepherd writes:

“I have quoted and cited, referred and alluded, but I am still no prophet. What do I believe—and which I, and at what time? Perhaps this near-chrestomathy is evidence, however circumstantial, that beauty is not merely personal or idiosyncratic.”

A “near-crestomathy”. What is that? It would seem that Beauty (in its various definitions) does not give “useful” readings that aid “learning”. Beauty, for Shepherd, allows a sense of absoluteness. Historical writings suggest that is not merely personal or relative…yet it is does not become a concept that is entirely useful for the human mind. Beauty is useless and good for nothing except seduction, for “getting laid”...outside the realm of education.


Digging through language in Passages 15/Spelling, Duncan links the Chi-rho symbol of Greek scribes with the poet’s task. He links chi-ro-eston, the “useful” mark placed alongside any important passage with the chrestomathy of his own Passages. Spelling chrestomathy as Xrestomathy, he also draws in the spiritual, the chi-ro that symbolises Christ/Xristos. Locked within chrestomathy is the Spirit, the X of Plato that represented the World Soul. The poet who spells the world through language as he or she understands it is bound to cast spells, to hermetically re-create.


Poetry, like science fiction, is connected to marginal worlds, says Shepherd in acknowledging his affinity with Delany. The poet is a liminal being who lives in margins, marking the body of other works with the “useful” sign and from this creating a chrestomathy, a body of work that is his own. In this sense, the chrestomathic poet is Hermetical, a guide among the souls of the dead, a wanderer in the realms of Osiris, the Xthonic darkness from which seeds of love erupt. This is the orgasm sought by the true poet, the re-making of the body of language in all its stickiness, its adhesion.


Jee Leong Koh said...

You're right. I like this post more and more. More adhesion, please.

Eshuneutics said...

I will try to oblige ;-) Hope you are well, Jee.